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Road to Kitty Hawk: Interview with Tanay Manjrekar

Road to Kitty Hawk: Interview with Tanay Manjrekar

My name is Tanay Manjrekar. I’m an electrical engineer here in the power electronics division at Hyperloop One. I’ve been at Hyperloop One for about two years now, and I initially started here as an intern, and that’s when we were doing POAT at that time. POAT is a propulsion open air test, so it’s basically a demonstration for our propulsion system. We took all of the learnings from POAT into DevLoop. The designs were more production-ready or were in a better state as compared to POAT. To talk specifically about DevLoop, I can basically break it down into two. One being the construction phase, and the other one being the testing phase. During the construction phase, I was responsible for designing all of the electrical hardware, schematics and PCBs for the circuit boards, for the controls and power electronics systems. During the testing phase, I was the responsible engineer for the VFDs. VFDs are variable frequency drives. They take the grid and put power and then convert it into meaningful, controllable power which we supply to the motor, which propels the pod ahead. I was there for almost all of the tests at DevLoop and at POAT, from the really slow tests, so the slow speed test, to the aeroshell testing and high-speed tests. And the data that I see on my screens in the control room is the real-time data from what the VFDs are outputting. So, I would say the first person who actually comes to know if this was a successful run would be me in the test room, because that’s real-time data that I see on the screens. The surprising fact of the thing is that I’ve never really seen a single pod video live. Cause I’m always glued onto these screens that show voltage and current and frequency and phase. That is really the gist of what testing stands for me. It’s, “Did we do our calculations correct?” “Did we do our homework right?” “Did the run actually go as planned?” There’s a lot of emotions that actually go through the test room at that time, and the fact that we have such an amazing team just makes it easier to go through all of those emotions. Kitty Hawk for me was very special. I literally had goosebumps on me. And standing in the back, and the moment we go with the countdown, everyone is silent and just looking at videos and looking at my screen. And the pod goes through and everyone just jumps a lot in joy. That is a very thrilling experience. And then like recently we did our fastest speed, high-speed run, and that was fun cause it’s a very young team, and it was just a bunch of us in the control room at midnight somewhat making this thing go really fast, and no one had seen the footage at that time, so that was cool.

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